Endorsing Bernie Sanders

Only a few years ago, I never would have imagined supporting a Democratic-Socialist in 2016. My political philosophy has seen many major changes over the last five years of life and college. During my late teenage years, I was an ardent Democrat. Supported and argued in support of Obama, partially because I bought into the hype, mostly because I was merely emulating the positions my parents had at the time. But I was severely disappointed by the way Obama’s first term turned out. Failed promises, more war, and in my eyes, a continuation of most things “Bush.” Still, I considered myself a Democrat. Mostly because I came from a middle class family, and identified with the donkey’s social platform more than the elephant’s. However, in preparation for the 2012 campaign, I began watching the Republican debates as I’ve always been interested in politics, and wanted to scope out the competition. And then something happened which changed my thought process entirely. I heard Ron Paul speak.

Now, Ron Paul isn’t a great speaker. I don’t agree with all of his positions. I don’t consider myself a full-blown libertarian, nor did I shift my affiliation to the Republican party during that election cycle. But I was drawn by his honesty. His position on foreign intervention and the honesty of his words in regards to 9/11, middle east policy, the drug war, and much more attracted me to his campaign. I became a strong Ron Paul supporter. Threw a bumper sticker on my car, and a sign in my parents yard. To me, Ron Paul represented an option that was different than both traditional Republican or Democratic candidates could offer, real change. During those middle college years, I also identified more with core libertarian values and less government intervention. Its also hard to not respect the man’s position on personal liberty and privacy concerns.

A few months ago, I had completely given up on 2016. I would have bet my munch money on a Clinton-Bush election, with Clinton being the winner. I wasn’t even going to participate in the process. After seeing the way Ron Paul’s campaign was sabotaged, I had no faith that a politician going against the grain could find success. Enter Bernie Sanders. I didn’t know much about Bernie until a month or so ago. I’d seen him on a few news programs and Bill Maher’s show before, but that was about it. I appreciated his position on Global Warming, and as an Electrical Engineer with a focus in power systems and an interest in solar PV, he was already decent in my book. At first, some of his seemingly more radical positions scared me. Free or heavily reduced college for all? Tax the heck out of the mega rich? A campaign that emphasizes income inequality issues and raising the minimum wage to $15/hr? Pretty much all of these issues are contradictory to the platform I so ardently defended and supported in 2012. But his honesty and the way he spoke made me listen to him more and more. And I researched the positions I didn’t agree with and came around on almost all of them. Raising the minimum wage makes sense. Why should the government or the rest of the American people subsidize Walmart by providing their workers food stamps because they are not making enough money? Why do the uber-rich often pay less taxes than the poor and middle class? Isn’t education the pathway to a more intelligent, profitable, and safe society? It would be impossible to summarize all of Bernie’s positions here, but he is the only candidate I trust with the most important issue facing mankind in the coming years: global climate change. The plain and simple truth is that we’re killing our planet. Irreversible damage has most likely already been done, and yet, we spend more money on tanks, bullets, and wars than we do on severing the ties with oil, coal, and other environmental hazards.

I think part of what initially attracted me to Bernie was the potential to shakeup the system. In a way, he reminded me of what Ron Paul offered, actual change. And while some of my political positions have flip-flopped almost as much as Mitt Romney’s, I’m glad to have finally arrived at a candidate who represents and espouses the ideas that America, and the world, needs to be successful moving forward. In 2016, I officially endorse and support Bernie Sander. Here’s to real, honest change.

-Jack Balt

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